Singaporean Muslims planning to perform the umrah or minor pilgrimage in May or June should take extra precautions to protect themselves against the recent rise of the Mers-COV disease in Saudi Arabia, said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) in a statement on Thursday.
Mers-COV, short for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, causes acute respiratory illness in infected patients.
The council said pilgrims should consult a doctor to ensure they are medically fit for the pilgrimage, and also strongly recommended that they get vaccinated against influenza and meningitis. "People aged 65 and older or those with chronic medical conditions should obtain pneumococcal vaccination as well," it said.
It added that pilgrims should also familiarise themselves with the Ministry of Health's (MOH) health advisory on the disease, which is available online at www.moh.gov.sg and provided at pre-departure briefings for prilgrims conducted by travel agents.
Contact details of all pilgrims will also be provided to MOH for contact tracing if needed, although the details will be kept confidential and used only for public health uses.
"When pilgrims are in the Holy Lands, they should observe good personal hygiene at all times, adopt good food safety and hygiene practices, avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections and avoid contact with camels and other live animals, including not visiting camel farms," Muis said. "Pilgrims who develop fever, cough and or breathlessness while travelling, or within two weeks after returning to Singapore, should seek medical attention promptly and inform the doctor of their travel history."